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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 29, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 29, 2016.
 Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.30 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 6-22-2016) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) reported the fishing has been a little tougher after this last week of extreme heat. The surface temp around our area is already at 88 degrees! Pretty hot for the middle of June. The water is clear to stained. Start fishing your deeper summer patterns for walleye and crappie. Bass are still good on a variety of jigs and lures. Also, keep in mind that the boat launch at the end of K Highway is almost completely under water. With the new seasonal pool now set at 662.00 feet msl, their boat launch and access road is a thing of the past. Frustrating to think that fishermen and recreational boaters living in and visiting the Branson area will struggle to find an access onto Bull Shoals Lake. Black bass are good on topwater early mornings and evenings. Also good on jigs, plastics in the brush and big worms. Walleye are fair on deep-diving crankbaits and bottom-bouncing nightcrawlers. Crappie is slow to fair on live minnows at 15-20 feet deep.
(updated 6-15-2016) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said the lake rose a few feet earlier in the month. There is a lot of brush in the water up to 5 feet around the shoreline. The water temperature is higher then normal. It is in the low 70s to mid-80s around the lake depending on where you take it. That is a little higher then normal. The water is still fairly clear. There seems to be a thermocline forming around the 18-22-foot level, which is normal for this time of year. Bass fishing is still great. Most of the reports are good with topwater bite the most reported. Then weedless plastics in and around the brush in shallow water. This should change to deeper fishing fairly soon during the day with the water temperatures rising. Walleye fishing hasn't been the best. They have not seen many caught or at least getting reports of many. Not sure why either, because it is usually very good this time of year. It was good March, April and the first two weeks of May but has slowed down since the middle of May. The patterns that follow are still catching some. Not much else to report. For bass, use crankbaits, Swimming Minnow plastics, spinnerbaits, jigs, french fry worms, Carolina rigged plastics, stick baits and topwater. Yes thats right! Just about anything you want to throw. For walleye, trolling deep-diving baits is working in 15-20 feet of water, bottom bouncing with nightcrawlers, slow retrieval of a spoon, slow retrieval of a split shot and nightcrawler. To catch white bass, troll with crankbaits, cast with swimbaits and small jigs or try night fishing with lights. They are seeing lots of crappie being caught. The main pattern being reported is swimming an 1/8-ounce to 1/64-ounce jig just off the bottom along the shoreline. They are spawning so they are not grouped up. You might have to fish a lot of shoreline to catch a bunch.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 6-29-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported the river level being very high, with eight to nine generators running. The water is clear. Trout fishing is good, but it’s harder since the water rose. Rainbows are good. Use power bait or power worms.

(updated 6-29-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said Bull Shoals Dam has been issuing some water this week, with falling water as the morning progresses, then gradually rising water until late afternoon, evening hours, when levels become pretty high and swift. They weren't offered any real wading opportunities this week, but bank/shore fishing was more rewarding than most times. Drift fishing with white and chartreuse power eggs and lots of pink/white mouse tails provided the best catches for bait fishers. They had enough water to have luck with rogues, dark backs, white bellies. On Tuesday the water was lower than it has been for a week, so Gamble said they were back to catching with Zig Jigs, olive/ginger, tri-olive and black. The upcoming forecast is for cooler temperatures (whew!), but continue to stay hydrated and slathered in sunscreen (on you, not your bait or fishing equipment.) Enjoy the Natural State and especially the beautiful Ozark Mountain region of Arkansas.

(updated 6-29-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) ) said the area has had no rain, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds in the past week. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.7 feet to rest at 1.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.67 feet. This is 32.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at a foot below seasonal power pool and 15 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had more generation last week with little wade-able water. All of the lakes on this system are currently at or below seasonable power pool, and with the heat wave we have been enduring, expect more generation to supply more power for the increased demand for air conditioning. Without a doubt, the area’s best and most prolific mayfly hatch of the year is the sulphurs, Ephemerella Dorothea. Berry suggests how to fish the orange-ish/yellow mayflies in size 14 that are starting to hatch on the White and Norfork rivers. Berry has had numerous reports of sulphur sightings on the White and reports of trout actually taken on sulphur dry flies during a hatch on the Norfork River (Berry says he was sworn to secrecy on the exact location). This is definitely good news in that, the hatch is occurring during a period of reliable low water on both rivers (hopefully), which offers some great opportunities to catch the hatch. The hatch occurred quite a bit later last year. The best fishing was in late July. Last year all of the action was on the Norfork River because they were running a lot of water on the White during the hatch and the trout never keyed into them there. Berry says he was lucky enough to catch the hatch several times last year both while guiding a client and then fishing on his own. His best fish on the sulphur was a fat 19-inch rainbow. He also landed what he described as a spectacular 18-inch cutthroat the same day. The best way to fish the sulphur or any hatch is to fish all phases: nymph, emerger and adult. Before the actual hatch begins, the sulphur nymphs will become more active and the trout will begin keying in on them. Berry’s favorite fly to imitate the sulphur nymph is the bead-head pheasant tail nymph size 14. He used to use the copper John in the same size 14, but has had more success of late with the pheasant tail. He fishes it below a strike indicator, with the trick being to achieve a perfect drag-free drift. He gets a lot of strikes at the end of the drift, when the fly begins to ride up. It looks like an emerging nymph. When you observe takes on the top but do not see any adult insects, it is time to concentrate on fishing the emergers. This is where the nymphs have risen to the film (the top 2 inches of the water column). The adults are trying to emerge from the nymph shuck and break through the surface tension of the water. They are unable to move as they drift downstream with the current and are extremely vulnerable to predation. To fish this phase the most productive method is to swing soft hackles. Berry’s favorite fly for this technique is the partridge and orange in a size 15. This is frequently the most productive method, even when the hatch is in full bloom. When you see trout taking adult insects off the surface of the water, it is time to switch to fishing dry flies. After the insect emerges through its nymph shuck and breaks through the surface tension of the water, it climbs up on top of the water and drifts downstream until its wings dry and it can fly off. It is very vulnerable at this time. For the fly fisher this is the most exciting phase. The idea of a good fish coming up and snatching an adult insect from the surface of the water is exciting. Berry says it certainly flips his switch. His favorite fly for this phase is a sulphur parachute in size 14. He said he originally used a light Cahill but found that the sulphur parachute was more effective and a lot easier to see. The secret to success is to get a perfect drag-free float. The tendency when fishing dry flies is to set the hook too soon. There is something about watching a good fish rise to the surface to take a dry fly that gets your adrenalin going. The British say that you should bow to the trout and say “God save the Queen” before setting the hook. Berry, though, says he waits until the trout shuts its mouth and moves below the surface of the water before setting the hook, and that seems to work. The sulphur hatch has provided Berry some of the best dry fishing he’s ever enjoyed. Give it a try.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 555.68 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).
(updated 6-29-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake continues to stay HOT. The lake temperature is hot and the striper fishing is hot. Before daylight look for stripers in 35-45 feet of water feeding on crawdads. When the sun comes up, start moving out to 100-130 feet of water. After 8 a.m. the fishing turns off using live bait. Stripers continue being caught at the Highway 62 bridge and Robinson Point. On the south end of the lake the stripers are appearing on the deep side of the points; they are also in the deep channels and bays that abut a bluff. The lake is very clear this year and the creeks are clear due to the continual dam generation. One gate needs maintenance and the lake level must be down to 553 and stay that way up to two weeks. Catching bait some days is taking up to five hours to catch 30 baits. Once the lake level reaches 553 the creeks will return to normal water color. Jim called Tom from Cabool, Missouri, about taking him and his two daughters striper fishing. They had not fished for stripers before, so we set it up for Sunday. Tom says he had a good week overall; one thing about summer fishing Norfork Lake is the pattern will stay the same but the fish react to weather and boat traffic different each day. On Thursday and Friday, fishing was very hot; he says they could not keep a bait in the water for the first two hours. Each day they caught at least 10 stripers in little over an hour. Saturday there was a major lighting storm north of them and that shut down fishing. They caught only four but did catch a 16-pounder. Tom said he was very disappointed because he could see the fish but they just did not want to take the bait. On Sunday with Jim and his girls, Reynolds decided to start very shallow and was rewarded with stripers everywhere. Within 10 minutes they hooked up and it stayed that way. They caught seven before light and kept six, then the bite slowed down but they caught their limit by 7 a.m. and were back cleaning fish by 7:20. This time of year with the water temperature being so high, Reynolds says he does not release legal fish. The mortality rate when fighting fish is very high right now. Therefore if you book with Reynolds, expect to catch fish but you will keep them. So, he says, your trip may not last the four hours but you will have a great time.
(updated 6-29-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 555.93. The Corps is running one generator continuously. The lake surface water temperature is in the mid to upper 80s. The main lake is clearing and the creeks and coves are slightly stained. Striped bass fishing is continuing to be a strong bite. Fish are still scattered throughout the lake and are mainly concentrated in 25-40 feet of water either on the bottom or suspended in deep water. For the last couple of weeks, he has been fishing with his daughter and her family and they had a blast. All including the little ones were catching fish. After keeping several limits of stripers the first couple of days, they started releasing all fish caught. Lou’s 4-year-old granddaughter had fun catching bluegills at the dock and she is getting really good with her Tinkerbell pole. Live thread fin shad has been working great for his group, but vertical jigging with a spoon and trolling with swimbaits also produce some nice fish. Largemouth bass fishing has slowed a little but is still good. There is some topwater action early in the mornings, but the bigger ones are going deeper. He has found bass partway back in creeks at channel swings near points. They are in shallow water early, then move out to 20-30 feet of water as the sun gets high in the sky. There are plenty of bass hanging out in the shadows of the docks during the day.
Crappie fishing is also in its hot-water mode: hard to find, but once you locate them you will catch some nice fish in the 10-14-inch range. A couple of his guests have been crappie fishing and did well both Monday and Tuesday. Start looking for brush piles back in creeks and coves. The brush should be in 20-35 feet of water and the fish will be suspended on the tops of the brush, but some of the nicer ones will be deeper. There are still plenty of nice crappie in the shadows of the docks during the day. There are some nice walleye being caught. Look for walleye in 25-35 feet of water. They will be around main lake points that have brush nearby or at this same depth along the rocky bluff walls. Jigging spoons as well as a crawler harness are working.
(updated 6-22-2016) Guide Steve Olomon said the lake level is 557.1 feet msl and the water temperature is in the mid-80s. Look for stripers down 35-60 feet deep. They can be close to the bottom in 35 feet depth or they can be suspended in 100 feet. Check the deep side of points and close to the creek channels in the creeks. They had a few small stripers in the 2-4-pound range and some hybrids about 4-6 pounds coming up hitting Zara Spooks in a creek while they were sitting in 55 feet. There were a few whites, large mouth and some smallies mixed in. Steve and his group hit another spot and got into a few spotted bass. They were not coming up chasing, they just came up and hit the spooks in Big Creek. The group caught a few stripers and a couple hybrids on jigging spoons suspended at 30 feet in about 55 feet of water. F or more information on the area and lake visit

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 6-29-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.6 feet to rest at one 0.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had limited wade-able water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes on this system are currently at or below seasonable power pool. With the heat wave we have been enduring we should expect more generation so supply more power for the increased demand for air conditioning. The Norfork has fished better lately. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (#18, #20, #22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (#14, #16) like the green butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise #10). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 18 elk hair caddis). The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday. My favorite fly has been the green butt. Dry Run Creek will be very busy, with summer vacation, in full swing. It is cleared and fished well. The hot flies have been sowbugs (#14), Y2Ks (#12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise #10). While you are at the creek you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases

Buffalo National River

(updated 6-15-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) saidthat with the weather warming, smallmouths are more active. My favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering the river. There are no dams and the river is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 6-15-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the river is navigable. Try his favorite lure for smallmouths, the Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering. There are no dams, there are large drainages and the creek prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.